Wesley Finch was a walking contradiction.
He was skinny and gangly in a way where if you poked him in the ribs, he looked like he might all but collapse. He had piercing blue eyes that chilled you to the bone while his brown hair looked like it belonged in a Garnier Nutrisse commercial. He dressed in torn t-shirts and ragged jeans which belied the fact that he made millions of dollars a year.
What confused Avis Portman most of all was that the man was considered a sex symbol.
She sat there on a coach, nice and coiffed, opposite where he stood socializing with others. The room was loud, filled with drunken celebs, designers, wannabes, and the like. It was typically Hollywood. She paid them no mind as she continued to study him, soaking in every quirk, movement, and flutter that Wesley Finch ever made. She knew that in her mind she should stop considering that every move she made was constantly misconstrued. Still, she sat and stared.
His eyes made contact with her, his eyebrow rising and in that moment she knew that he knew that she had been staring at him for the entire duration. Her pale cheeks colored and was absolutely mortified. Looking determinedly at the floor, she stood up to leave.
It wasn't her first encounter with him.
She woke up feeling refreshed. Her embarrassment the night before was pushed far to the back of her mind as she rolled out of bed to start her day. God, how she had stared at him all night long. If it weren't for the fact that she was Avis Portman, he probably would have thought she was a crazy fan. She winced. It was a poor way to be compared.
She glanced at the clock. It was only nine in the morning. She thought of briefly calling Annalise but decided against it. Lord knew that she probably had a massive hangover and would not be pleased by a call.
She sighed. It was ironic that when she finally had time to relax after years of being tightly controlled, it turned out she had nothing to do after all. It made her slightly depressed to think about it.
She had been in the business since she was three years old. It seemed like it had been her destiny ever since she was born. Her entire family was made of actors. Her dad was involved in plays during high school and her mom had even gone so far as to study theatre in college. Her career had never amounted to anything so she became an acting coach instead. Driven by her failure, she had signed up her children for anything that came along and by the time they were in kindergarten, both of the Portman kids were featured in national ads and commercials. Rather than soccer games and school fundraisers, they had auditions and photo shoots.
Avis was the one who had really succeeded. Autumn was able to escape their mother's grasp by attaining a full scholarship to college. With her long auburn hair and hazel eyes, she was a knockout and could easily have been featured on the cover of Vogue. She gained small parts in major films before opting out. When Avis thought about her, she was always torn between jealousy and love.
Her cell phone rang. The screen read Jerry. She rolled her eyes.
"Hi Jerry," she crooned knowing that it would annoy him.
"Hi darling," he said in his booming New York accent, "You know that it annoys me whenever you do that. It makes me feel like I'm Charlie and you're my angel."
"I thought that men would love to be him."
"Yeah if he was actually able to see them. You know why I'm calling."
"Darling, you know that you're going to have to look for another movie. Hollywood is fickle. She's even more fickle than my mother around her birthday."
"I just got done doing one and I have to promote 'Everyone' along with fifty million other things. I need a break," she said frustrated.
"Look, chill out. I know that but there is a reason why you have a big profile acting wise. Everyone wants you. All of the directors and producers, they all want you. Not some other star. You know how huge that is kid?"
Her anger heightened. "I know," she said coldly, "but I don't see how taking a break or two couldn't hurt."
Sensing danger, Jerry quickly added, "Fine, fine, I get it. Here's the thing, I read the script and it's fan-freaking-tastic. It's like Oscar worthy. You have a chance here to get it and it'll boost your career too. Seriously, a nomination at twenty-one years old? If not, it'll still be a huge success. It's not an everyday occurrence."
She went quiet for a minute considering his words. It would mean a lot but these days, she was so tired from work and family that all she wanted to do was sleep. She knew she fighting a losing battle though.
She finally said, "I'll think about it."
"Oh thank God. I really thought that you were going to pass on me."
"But Jerry," she said, her voice full of warning, "if the script's not good, I'm passing on it. No if's and but's. It better not be like 'Battleship.'"
Her ego was still bruised by that movie. Jerry had sent it to her saying that it was another run of the mill blockbuster that while not groundbreaking, could still bring in the cash. She read it, thinking that the movie was poorly written but she agreed to do it anyways. When it was finally released and everyone alike hated it, things had turned slightly sour between them. Even now, four months later, she still gave him shit about it.
"It's not," he replied exasperated, "and will you let that go? Your career's fine and no one even talks about it anymore. You're deluding yourself there."
"Anyways, you can read it yourself so it's not like you're agreeing to something without your consent."
"I know. Just send it to me soon so I can read it. I'll talk to you later then."
"Ok. Listen, Avis, I know that you want a break but I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think it would be good for you. I know that you're in some type of funk right now-,"
"-and zoning out constantly-,"
"I worry about you," he said earnestly, "I know I'm just your agent but I'd like to think the last ten years have gotten us to a point where we can worry about each other. Are you ok?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Good. I wouldn't want my little star to quit. Or go to rehab since that would be disastrous."
"Bye Jerry," and she hung up.
She needed a girls' night right now. Their talk had pissed her off even though she couldn't deny his logic. She called Annalise but even at eleven, it was still too early and her phone went straight to voicemail.
"Hey, when you wake up, call me back. We need to do something together. Around three-ish? Bye," and with that she hung up. She looked at the time again. It slowly dragged by.
She arrived at Maria's, waiting for her companion to arrive. She knew that she would have to wait a little since Annalise was known to arrive fashionably late for everything unless if it was an audition. It continually amazed her that the girl had any level of success with that fault.
As she was looking around the tables, she wasn't surprised to see that only a few people were present. Even though the café was small, it catered to a high end crowd. It was common to see A-list celebrities making their rounds here. She saw a flash go off. God damn paparazzi.
Her eyes wandered before they landed on one Wesley Finch.
He was with a couple of friends again, laughing and clearly at ease. She didn't recognize any of them so she figured that they knew him before his rapid rise to stardom.
He sported a five o'clock shadow complete with a baseball hat to finish the scruffy look. Somehow he looked even more handsome than he had the night before. Her breath caught and she almost stopped breathing.
"Hey there, pretty lady."
She nearly jumped she was so startled. It turned out only to be Annalise, looking tired and haggard for someone as gorgeous as Annalise could be.
Annalise Donnelly looked like a ray of sunshine. She was nearly six feet tall with killer curves and a smile that left men smitten. Her blond hair and blue eyes made her look like the all American girl. Unlike Avis, who was usually content being shy, she wasn't a wallflower.
"Oh my God, you scared the shit out of me."
"I know. I aim to please," Annalise grinned, casually slipping her sunglasses off to observe the menu. "What were you staring at anyways? A potential lover?"
"Maybe," she muttered distractedly, peering at Wesley.
"What is that I hear? Avis Portman ready to get back into the dating scene? He has to be hot then," said Annalise, trying to casually follow her line of vision. Her eyes finally spotted him.
"Well," she said dragging it out, "you certainly could have done worse."
Avis blushed. "Your implications are ridiculous. I do not have a crush on Wesley Finch. I haven't even met him so for all I know, he could be an ass which is a major turn off."
"You just said maybe before! I'm just building on what you said. Besides, from what I hear he is really nice and sweet. It wouldn't hurt to just talk to the guy."
"You act as though I've got some big desire to. I'm just checking him out," Avis explained, trying to desperately to convince her friend.
"Just checking him out my ass," snorted Annalise. "I may have acted surprised then but trust me, I know how you've been staring at him for the past couple of weeks."
"I don't stare at him."
"Yeah, you do. He's cute but he's not my type and I didn't think he would be yours. I have to say, Avis Portman, I'm surprised."
Her friend had a point she had to admit. He was a tad on the skinny side for her and a touch too pale. She didn't know what it was about him but he was captivating to her. She looked over at him again and he looked adorable eating his food.
"So," she said, smoothly switching the subject, "Jerry called me today."
Her friend's suspicious eyes told her the subject was going to come up later. "Yeah?" Annalise replied lightly.
"Yeah. He found another script for me."
Confusion mounted in her eyes, "I thought you wanted to take a break."
"I did or I do. I don't know. He said it was really good so I guess I should see it."
"Sweetheart, I don't mean to sound like a concerned parent but aren't you overworking yourself? The past year, it feels like I've hardly seen you. Either you're in Europe shooting a movie or in town only because you're shooting a movie. It's fucking insane."
"Don't worry about me," Avis said pulling a strand of hair away, "It's not like I'm not used to it. Plus if it turns out to be good, it can't hurt me."
"All right," replied Annalise still not looking wholly convinced.
"Besides what about you? It seems like you're on every single cover."
"Yes but the difference is that those only take a day versus months of 16 hour shoots. To answer your question, however, I'm good. I think I'm up for a good TV role," she answered, a light sparking in her eyes.
They spent the rest of the day doing what they did best: chatting, shopping and giggling like schoolgirls.
When she got back to her house, she found a script waiting for her on her kitchen table.
It was titled simply as "The Couple." She rolled her eyes. It was an embarrassingly uncreative name.
She picked it up and started to read. The plot revolved around a boy and girl during the 1940's. They grew up as childhood friends and realize they're in love when they're teenagers. The war starts and the two are separated. They lose connection, causing heartache for the girl. Thinking that he's dead, she marries only for the boy to be alive after all. She remains married while he finds another wife. Their love saga continues the rest of their lives and it is only when they're dead that they're finally together.
She wiped her eyes. She was such a sap. It seemed like something that should be a Nicholas Sparks book. Still, she had to admit, the dialogue was excellent and it wasn't overly melodramatic when written.
She called Jerry saying, "I read the script."
"I liked it. I'm in."
"Oh thank God. I was worried that you wouldn't. What a fucking relief. I'll call the producers and tell them to set up a contract. Jesus Christ. Don't ever do that to me."
"Jerry," she interrupted, "do you know who signed onto it yet?"
"Hmm, I know that Bobby Rodriguez is directing."
Oh good. She worked with him before and he was fantastic.
"And who else?"
He rattled off other names before finally saying, "Oh I think that new guy, Wesley Finch, is the other lead."
Her throat dried. This was interesting.
I hope you liked it. Reviews welcome.